Best Practices

Monthly Tips

Teaching the Skills of

Social Awareness

Some tips and tricks to consider:

  • Code Switching

    Vocabulary, Vernacular, Grammar and Slang have a time and place. An expansive youth work vocabulary is a necessity when meeting with Principals, Counselors and Teachers. Rely on the key terms shared in our QAP, Restorative Practice meetings, etc... Study at least one education related article: Common Core, Culture & Climate, Ethnic Studies. Google: Ted Talks about education and study the language.
    If you use language that is not authentic to your identity when building relationships with youth, it can be endearing or it can back fire. Being true to yourself is the best way to build relationships within your community. Youth will respond to your genuine self. Correct grammar is more effective if it is a genuine representation of who you are. If you are not classically educated strive to use a colorful vocabulary to inspire your youth. Effort, dedication and consistency will succeed when language fails you. Language is fickle and without addressing your implicit bias you can offend your colleagues or families. Start with a professional tone and then assess if code switching in necessary. With all of that said, the words I use with youth differ from the words I use with parents and that differs from the words I use with directors and board members. Know your audience!
  • Clothing and fashion

    Related to knowing your audience; how do you want to represent yourself? A collared shirt and a tie may not always be necessary to gain respect with families, but unless you are well established in your community, parents will typically assume the boss is wearing a tie. Most important be comfortable. Try wearing the lens of your parents, and do your best to reflect someone who is trust worthy of caring for their children.
  • History of the City, Bay Area and Neighborhood

    Shop in the neighborhood. Make connections to families who have lived in the neighborhood for generations. They will be happy to teach you about the history of the community. Ask your teachers what the community was like when they started. There is great beauty and struggle interwoven into the story of San Francisco. The population of SF natives is decreasing by the day, as the climate changes be sensitive to struggles that the families from San Francisco are experiencing.
  • Emphasizing Safe Space

    Have an awareness of what it means to walk out the doors of your program. We create safe spaces in our programs. Encourage youth to embrace that culture but recognize once they leave they will need to rely on survival skills and defense mechanisms to navigate through their environment. “You don’t need patience, when you have understanding…” - Nina Morgar.
  • Culture and Diversity

    San Francisco has a culturally diverse community. National minorities are majorities in San Francisco. Ethnicity, nationality, religion and race intersect in a combination of unique ways. It isn’t safe to assume you can define someone’s identity based on the way they present, but with a sensitive approach you can ask. Cultural sensitivity is as important as respecting the individual’s experience. A person with a mixed background may be questioned about their ethnicity daily. At the root of youth work creed and color should not factor into your approach. It is difficult to work in San Francisco without a basic grasp of the discrepancy between American-born Chinese-Americans and that of recently migrated families. It is important to have the basic understanding that Asian can be Chinese, Japanese, Korean and those are all different cultures. That applies to South American and Central American families, and that not all Latino families are Mexican. There are a dozen other languages than Tagalog in the Philippines. Tonga and Samoa are two different Pacific Island countries. 
  • Equity and Equality

    The diagram of the three children standing at a fence, each different heights, each on the same size stool trying to peer over the fence, juxtaposed against a photo of the tallest child seeing over the fence without the use of the stool, the second tallest child seeing fine with one stool and the shortest child seeing clearly with two stools stacked. This is the reason for tiered response systems. As a family’s need for support develops, we adjust, and offer strong universal programming that can address the needs of most populations.



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  Student, Family and Community Support DepartmentSan Francisco Unified School District